Friday, March 28, 2014

Coffee in the City means... Running Shoes

Clouds must be the happiest organism on the planet. They are granted to ability to change shapes while holding hands with outer space or crawling over the hills that are falling into the sea. Here in San francisco, the clouds move rapidly. A sunny morning can easily become a foggy day within minutes. I walked out of the Beresford Hotel into a comfortably foggy morning, hoping for some strong coffee. Dog in hand, I turned left up Sutter and set to strolling. Zig-zagging through the gridded streets I found appealing cafes at every other corner, but the one I chose was Contraband Roasting Company on Hyde.

The outdoor seating is comfortable, with sturdy tables (a rarity on steep hills) and metal chairs. How I can use comfortable and metal in the same sentence is besides me, but I admit that I enjoyed my stay. The cafe is as chic as the wave of new cafes popping up all over San Francisco, and the coffee is good. I ordered a Macchiato, and went outside to wait with my dog. Expecting someone to bring my coffee was a mistake, but no harm was done, because the time that my coffee sat on the counter gave it the perfect amount of cooling. Sip. Ah. Good coffee. I revel in each sip as the acids and warmth slip around my tongue, layering flavor after flavor. Coffee is complex, and that is why I love it. There is depth to it, and I delight in discovering the multitude of ways in which it should, and shouldn't be prepared.

I have a love-hate relationship with to-go cups though. I love the freedom of being able to take my drink with me if I need to move on to a different location, but I hate that it encourages leaving. With proper planning, one almost never needs a to-go cup, and one can invest time with other people in a place other than their own. Coffee shops have the potential to be epicenters of communication. If people would sit down, put away technology, and start conversations with fellow caffeine-lovers, I can only imagine what sorts of expansive experiences could come of it. Not to mention the incredible amount of waste generated by these little cups. I always leave with a feeling of guilt using a single-use paper cup, but I do make a conscious effort not to bring lids into the equation and risk the spills that could occur in-flight.

I walked the 9 or so blocks back to my hotel, passing by what could almost be considered a fashion show along the way. People in San Francisco present themselves as art-pieces as they stroll through the world. It is exciting to see outfits found in magazines, live in action. What amazes me most is the ease in which people wear these things. No hair comes unruffled, and I rarely see people adjusting shirts or jeans. Maybe it is all done in the privacy of the bathroom upon entering whatever location they are set for. After my experience in heels, I respect women who can stroll the hilly streets of san fran in leather-heeled boots. It seems to be a city norm, perhaps worldwide, and even though I don't agree with it being a necessity, there is something admirable about the pain they choose to inflict upon themselves.

Our second cafe was Jasmins Cafe on Bush St. It is an interesting mix of burritos and breakfast items, but the food was good. I ordered two eggs with toast, and coffee. The coffee is just a regular drip machine that makes partially stale coffee. If coffee is what you want, this is not the place for you. The ambiance was nice outside, and Mango and I had the pleasure of people watching the hoards of leather heeled boots and eclectic collection of persons. It is fascinating to know how many people I don't know in the world, and to have to accept that I can't and shouldn't interact with all, if any of them. However, it ignites a sense of awe at the infinite ways in which humans can live differently the same life. We all exist of the same air, land and water, yet our lives with the aid of cities and society diverge in a plethora of different ways. The passion to make my life something is always heightened in the cities where people all walk around having to pretend like what they do is important. Maybe it is, but is anything really? Review Here

I persuaded my cousin and brother to walk to Pier 33 to catch out ride to Alcatraz. I love winding through the city blocks, discovering the businesses that sustain peoples lives. On one corner I found this shop. The Station is a wonderful coffee shop, and I regretted not being able to sit down in the high ceiling room and stare our the windows or admire the fancy decorative bikes. The cashier was very personable and again I was hit with how many potential friends there are that I would never get to meet.

 The Station
Here is the coffee. As the sip was sipped, the coffee held on dearly to the sides of the cup, indecisive of whether life in the cup or in the body was better. 

My next cafe came the following morning. I had been avoiding this shop because of the logo, but finally I put away my judgements and entered. The atmosphere turned out to be absolutely lovely, and the coffee was incredible. Turns out the books can't be judged by their covers.

Ah... The Mill on Divisadero... Do I need say anything else? This coffee shop comes equipped with no wifi and only toast and coffee for the menu. The lack of decisions that need to be made are a wonderful relief from the overflowing world of choice.

The Mill

Not to mention their coffee is divine. I hate to support the seemingly pretentious coffee world, but there is an art to coffee that some places achieve moreso than others. The Mill has the details down, including informing you of who will be brewing your coffee that morning and where to pick it up. The sitting arrangement is along a long table, and I often found my conversations melding with those who were next to me. Website for The Mill

Now, at this point I should just stop writing... No one has read everything, and if you have, thank you and I hope that you are at least somewhat entertained by my verbose ramblings. I happened upon the Social Study as I was walking home from The Mill. Inside, the walls are lined with fold up tables so that this coffee shop can become a dance club by night. The coffee was decent at best, but the ambiance is worth peeping in for.

The last place I got to visit was Frog Hollow Ranch where this charming young lad prepared for me a chai latte. They pre-make a concentrate, which is used for the teas the following day. It was delicious, and you can see the vanilla beans floating on the surface in the second picture below. Shops like this line the walls of the Embarcadero, and it proved a wonderful activity for the rainy days in San Francisco

And for the rest of the photos... well these were the left to be desired. I was intrigued by these, by didn't have the time or resources. They are equally hip and polished from the exterior, and the people in their windows often adorned smiles.

To sum things up, I have realized how much there is to say about every single coffee shop and that I clearly need more than one blog post for all of the shops I had the opportunity to visit. I hope you gained some insight, and feel free to contact me for further information!

Much love,

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